The last-minute guide to Black Friday digital marketing

Ready or not, the holidays are pretty much here. If this comes as a shock to your system, don’t fret—it’s never too late to optimize! Here are a few last minute tips from our team of digital marketing experts to help you get the most out of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, as well as the entire holiday season.

1. Check your Google My Business listing—check it twice.

If you’re a brick-and-mortar shop looking for foot traffic this season, do yourself a huge favor and double-check your Google My Business listing. Make sure everything is correct, particularly your hours, location, and phone number. Be sure to take advantage of Google’s “special hours” feature if you’re going to be open outside your normal business times for Black Friday or Small Business Saturday.

Be aware that extra traffic means the potential for more user reviews through Google. It’s vital to stay on top of this and respond to any negative reviews as quickly as possible. Just be sure to be polite and solutions-focused rather than defensive so you can help correct any less-than-stellar experiences.

Also, take the time to create a holiday-themed Post. Google’s Posts feature allows you to add custom content that will appear as part of your listing for up to 7 days at a time. This is the perfect opportunity to tout any promotions you’re offering.

Check out our guide to using Google Posts and download our tips sheet on optimizing your Google My Business account. 

Alicia Zeluff
Local Search Lead

Katie Gerweck
Content & Outreach Expert

2. Good content: the gift that keeps on giving.

Looking to capitalize on the holiday season with content? Gift guides are a great way to generate interest in different products. Gift guides help provide direction to frazzled shoppers by outlining gift ideas for the different people in their lives. Guides can be focused on a certain family member or age group (dad, teenagers, etc.) or concentrate on certain types of gifts (technology, sports, etc.). Each gift idea should be accompanied by content on why it appeals to that audience and a high-quality image. It’s also useful to include a link or button that allows readers to easily purchase a product they like. Although gift guides will hopefully drive purchases, it’s important not to sound too sales-y. Like all content, gift guides should first and foremost provide value to the reader. (You can find more content-writing tips in my blog post on writing optimized content, as well as a handy checklist.) If you’re looking for additional opportunities to promote your products, consider signing up for the free service Help A Reporter Out (HARO). HARO sends daily emails with journalist queries on topics from a wide range of industries. The holidays seem to see an uptick in gift-related HARO queries, which gives you the opportunity to become a source and suggest your product(s).

 3. It’s the most wonderful time of the year for remarketing.

Remarketing can help businesses of every size decrease the cost of cutting through the holiday advertising clutter to reach an already-engaged audience. There are all sorts of great stats on remarketing success, but overall, conversion rates average significantly higher (as much as 100 – 400%, by some reports), and cost-per-ads lower than typical display advertising. Another benefit is that consumers generally have a more favorable view of remarketing ads, finding them to be a helpful and convenient reminder of something they were already interested in. It’s easy to imagine why this is especially true during the holiday season, when shoppers are frantically trying to compare an array of products on multiple websites. Here are a few ideas for getting the most from remarketing this holiday season:
  • Provide a special offer for visitors who have abandoned their cart to push them over the edge into purchasing.
  • Stay top of mind for potential customers who have voluntarily provided their email (by signing up to receive newsletters or promos).
  • Reconnect with customers who have already made a purchase from you and have a favorable view of your brand.
If you need more help knowing if remarketing is right for you this Black Friday, my blog post How to Choose the Right Ad Type has a helpful flow chart that breaks down your options.

Cynthia Kazanis
Paid Search Expert

Tarun Gehani
SEO Lead

4. Deck your site with holiday-themed landing pages.

If you are running paid digital ads this season, be sure they land on pages created just for that purpose. Keep them short, sweet and targeted to your specific promo. A perfect landing page should have one purpose and needs just four elements to support it: a headline that ties directly to the ad, a brief description or explanation, a call-to-action that provides what the ad promised, and visual elements that are consistent with the business’s brand. Don’t make it hard on yourself—use a landing page service like Instapage or Leadpages and you’ll have added benefits of design templates, A/B testing, conversion tracking, and integrations with other services.

Also, be 100% sure your landing pages are optimized for mobile devices. This is not optional. In 2016, 40% of total Black Friday sales were made on a mobile device. 80% of shoppers, in general, check their phone for product reviews or to compare prices while in a physical store. [Source: OuterBox]

Once the holiday season is over, we’re going to give you permission to be the virtual “guy on the block who leaves his Christmas lights up all year”—if you are hosting the landing page on your site (rather than a service like Instapages), don’t take it down. It probably contains some valuable keywords and links to your offerings. Instead, make sure it’s clear that the offer is no longer available, and allow the page to indexed so it’s all the more powerful next year. 

5. O come all ye Facebook followers.

Social media users count on their favorite platforms to keep them connected year ‘round. And recent trends indicate that social media is becoming widely used to research goods and services. (78% of users say their purchase decision is influenced by a brand’s social media.) So, even though you are probably planning to be busy this holiday season, be sure not to ignore your social profiles.

There are a ton of great ideas when it comes to using social media for Black Friday promotion; our favorites are:

Use hashtags. Cut through the clutter of social media advertising by adding hashtags like #blackfriday2017 and #[your industry, product, or service] to your posts. This will make it easier for users to find information on your business’s seasonal promotions. (Keep in mind that Facebook and Twitter discourage more than 3 hashtags per post.)

Post regularly, before, during, and after Black Friday. Your business’s feed is a great, free way to keep your loyal customers informed.

  • Before Black Friday, use hashtags to get on shopper’s radars so they plan on visiting your store. Tag nearby businesses who are also posting deals ahead of time, and repost them if they tag you back.
  • During Black Friday, share photos of the crowds and update potential customers if a popular item is close to selling out. Consider sharing a special promo code just for your social media followers. Feel free to go “Live” (or have one of your salespeople do so) if something unexpectedly awesome happens.
  • After Black Friday, tag businesses that helped make your customers’ experiences extraordinary. Post a highlights album of the day and invite your followers to tag themselves.

Alex Konwinski
Social Media Expert

Cynthia Kazanis
Analytics Expert

6. Find out if your campaigns are naughty or nice with UTM codes.

No matter the digital channels you use this holiday season, be sure to tie it all up with a nice bow and use UTM tracking. This simple tracking method will work with Google Analytics so you can see whether your first or second email blast was more enticing, which holiday sweater photo was more appealing, and whether shoppers will beat down your doors for a 15% off promotion.

There are plenty of free UTM builders out there. Simply fill out a form and they will generate a code that you can just copy-paste into your promotions. Here’s a quick run-through:

  • At a bare minimum, fill out the campaign source (platform), campaign medium (how traffic got from your platform to your website), and campaign name (this can be something like: “Black Friday boots deal”). If you put nothing at all in the other fields, Google will just disregard them.
  • If the URL will be visible to customers in your post (like on Twitter), you should use the “convert URL to short link” button at the bottom of the page.
  • Keep it simple! There is no need to tag every single post you make on all social platforms. Just identify the big ones that you know you want to follow up on.

7. Send a merry little email.

Don’t forget email. It may not feel very cutting edge, but it’s still one of the best ways to connect with your customers, especially the most loyal ones. It doesn’t have to be long or involved—short and sweet is much more effective—but take the time to remind your subscribers of your offerings and promote any Black Friday specials. If you have enough time, a multi-day build-up campaign isn’t a bad idea either. Just don’t overdo it.

Be sure it’s clear who the email is coming from and why. Subscribers will look for their favorite brands, so don’t try to hide that you’re sending a promo thinking they’ll be more likely to open. That said, it doesn’t hurt to be conversational in your messaging, particularly in the preview text that’s shown before an email is opened.

While not exclusively email, one trend that’s a personal favorite is the “anti-Black Friday” campaign. Businesses buck the convention of pushing sales and instead use it as an opportunity to showcase their values. REI now famously closes its stores on Black Friday and encourages customers to get outside on their day off. There are other retailers that have chosen not to offer deals, but rather donate a portion of the day’s sales to a relevant cause. Don’t underestimate the power of goodwill this holiday season, customers are loyal to companies that they believe in. 

Cathy Colson
Creative Lead